Today on Monday Musings we’re joined by Anne Ashby to talk to us about herself and her novel, Worlds Collide. First, let’s find out more about Anne.
Anne Ashby grew up in a very small coastal town in Southland, New Zealand. An eagerness to travel, fostered by her mother, led her to join the Royal NZ Navy where she enjoyed a very satisfying career. She has travelled extensively and lived in Singapore and Maryland USA. Anne likes to bring something of her beautiful country to romance readers everywhere by using New Zealand as the setting for most of her clean/sweet contemporary stories. If not set in NZ, Anne has Kiwi characters filling her books. Anne has a keen interest in genealogy, an obsession for rugby and a definite dislike of housework. When not reading or writing, Anne finds plenty to occupy her time with her family commitments and her role as the National President of the Royal NZ Navalwomen’s Association. She currently lives in Auckland with her husband and one of their four children. She’s blessed to have her four grandchildren living close by.
Do you live in a city or small town and what places do you most like to visit?
I’m a country girl through and through although I live in a city now. I grew up in a township of less than 50 people and don’t remember ever feeling hard-done-by or missing out on anything worthwhile. Work led me into the city and generally that’s where I’ve ended up, but I love the solitude of the countryside, especially somewhere near the sea. I’m fortunate our suburban home is in a very quiet area of Auckland city. I love travelling, and generally avoid cities – they are places we have to fly in and out of, and hopefully grab a rental car before leaving as quickly as possible. I’ve found cities are so similar to one another, no matter which country you might be visiting, whereas the countryside varies so much. Give me the countryside every time.
I’m with you in thinking big cities are too similar. I’d love to see some of the more iconic ones, like NY, London or Paris, but give me an eclectic little town or, even better, some spectacular scenery preferably with water and I’m one happy traveller. Do you have a favorite author? Favorite book?
While I enjoy many current writers, none have constantly stood out enough to be termed a favourite. I doubt any of your readers will have heard of my favourite author. She was a prolific New Zealand writer called Essie Summers. When I was growing up and first reading romances, she lived a couple of hundred kilometres away and set her romances in areas I knew or had visited. I loved this, and as I began writing, I realised I didn’t have to set my own stories in faraway places to sell them. I too, could use New Zealand settings.
I loved reading stories set where the author lives. They can bring a true local flavor to it. What is your favorite genre? Is this the genre you write?
My reading tastes are quite narrow. I read and write sweet/clean contemporary romance. I don’t mind what sub-sub-genre a story might be ie medical, intrigue, as long as it is “normal” contemporary. No paranormal for me, thanks. I write modern stories with modern situations so while I don’t have explicit passages I do make reference to some physical responses to my characters’ desires. I have begun labelling my stories as “clean but not chaste, suitable for 16+” so as not to mislead any possible readers.
Where do you write? Describe your writing space.
I am fortunate to have enough space in our house for me to have a dedicated office. Although occasionally taken over by sons or grandchildren, I generally have sole use of this small room. Lined with built in bookshelves and a door to window desk I can spread out as much as necessary to achieve either my writing or research. A sign with “writer at work, do not disturb” stuck to the outside of the door might be often ignored by visiting pre-schoolers but seems to keep the adult nuisances at bay.
Sounds like heaven. I have my own ‘office’ too, but it’s rather crammed and there’s not an inch to spare on my desktop. (Note to self: look into getting a sign like Anne’s) What does your family think of your writing? Have they read your work?
One of my big motivations prior to publication was to have a book in print for my mother, who has shared her love of reading with me. I believe she is quietly proud of my writing achievements, although she is of a generation that doesn’t dish out excessive praise. I’m fortunate to have a very supportive husband who respects my writing enough to allow me hours a day to work on my stories. My children and extended family have been equally supportive, offering me ideas and suggestions, some of which I actually use.
Ah, yes, I totally get the bit about a print book for Mom. My mom has read and reread my books. Such a special feeling to know she enjoys them. I’m happy for you that you know how that feels too. Are you a plotter or pantser?
I’m definitely a pantser. Every new story I start, I try to make some plan, but just thinking about doing so mashes my brain so I give up. I’ve just accepted I will spend much more time than a plotter while editing my stories for submission, but that’s okay, it works for me.
I’ve always said the correct formula for writing is whatever works for that particular writer, so sounds as if you’ve found your own system. Is it difficult or easy for you to come up with titles and character names?
Oh No! The problem from Hell! I’m fine with character names, although I have been known to change them half way through a story. Like I had to in Worlds Collide when characters from Worlds Apart joined in, I found I had two “Tony” secondary characters. I inadvertently had this little habit of making all my male characters have 4 letter names. It wasn’t intentional to begin with, but then I didn’t feel comfortable with anything longer. I’m currently trying to break this as it’s a stupid thing to get tied up with. My latest submission has Connor as my hero.
Now titles? That’s a different kettle of fish entirely. A couple have been obvious right from the start – like Worlds Collide. I needed something to link it in some way with the previous story Worlds Apart, so that wasn’t difficult. But with others I have gone back and forth a number of times with my editor before she agrees ‘this one’ might work.
Don’t tell anyone but in my first two books, which are connected, I have two different secondary characters with the same first name, one in each story. Oops. When did you first become published?
My first story Worlds Apart was published by The Wild Rose Press in 2010. I’d written it while living in Maryland for a couple of years and wove in some of the cultural and language differences we found living in a new country.
How many books have you written? Do you have a favorite?
Worlds Collide is my seventh book – and is a companion to my first story. A favourite? I don’t think I can pick one favourite. I like something special about all my stories. In Devon’s Dream and Time to Bury the Past, I enjoyed weaving the relationships of the main characters’ children into the stories. I loved sharing aspects of our native bush in Wilderness Liaison. My interest in genealogy was the basis of part of the storyline in Leath’s Legacy. And in The CEO Gets Her Man I loved the idea of reversing the roles of who is the rich and powerful.
Seven books? Congrats, that’s quite an achievement. Describe your current hero and heroine.
Justin is an ‘ordinary’ Kiwi bloke, an electrician. He’s unpretentious, hard working, enjoys a laugh and would give the shirt off his back to someone in need. During his years in America, he’s never encountered social snobbery. Until he meets Nicole.
Nicole grew up the light of her mega-wealthy parents’ eye, being showered with everything, and more, than anyone could ever want. She’d broken free of their smothering and established a business on the other side of the country. Unfortunately she’d trusted the wrong man and had lost it all. Betrayed, momentarily broke and badly hurt she’d crawled back to her parents’ home to regroup. Meeting Justin while she was at such low ebb doesn’t go well. Her portrayal of a conceited and arrogant woman is so far from who she is now, but her attraction to Justin scares her. Can she change Justin’s wrong impression? Does she want to? Oh yes!
What inspired you to write about these particular characters?
Ever since Worlds Apart, I knew I would write Justin’s story. In fact I had a chapter in that story describing Justin’s dilemma with Nicole, but a trusted friend who critiqued the story told me to take it out, as it had nothing to do with the Raven/ Greg romance. So the characters were firmly established in my head, I just needed to round out the plot so it could become a whole story. I did have to do extra research to help me explain the impact a taniwha can have on a person. I’ll leave that as a little teaser, for your readers to wonder (maybe research themselves) what a taniwha is and what on earth it could have to do with a romance story.
(Madly typing taniwha into Google search) Yes, I see, and I do believe we just might have a local connection to a taniwha. Tell us about Worlds Collide.
Blurb: Although a secret dread lays buried deep inside New Zealand tradesman Justin Titirangi he appears content. He enjoys his life in Washington DC. He never dreamed a casual invitation to attend Thanksgiving with a friend’s family would impact his life so disastrously. Previously untouched by social snobbery, he’s blasted with both barrels.
Nicole Campbell is ashamed of how she’d treated her brother’s friend, but is smarting from the demise of a long term relationship. She never expects to see Justin again anyway. A need to escape her smothering parents but without ready funds, Nicole temporarily moves into her brother’s house in DC, unaware Justin also lives there.
Sparks fly when Justin and Nicole come face to face but will they manage to control the blaze before it engulfs them both?
We’d love to read an excerpt.
“Justin?” The whispered voice coming from behind the door as it crept open, wouldn’t have woken him had he been asleep. It would normally have filled him with anticipation, but now…
“Are you all right? I heard—Justin?”
The last thing he needed right now was Nicole rushing to his side, bending over him, showing him the enticing curve of her breasts as she reached for him.
“Justin, what happened?” Her hands ran over his naked chest, her gaze darting all over his body. A shiver ran through him. Only a wimpy shiver. It appeared he wasn’t capable of any other reaction despite her closeness, her ministrations, and her loving touch. “Are you hurt?”
For a moment he relished her touch, before reality struck him. With a disgusted groan, he pushed her away and stumbled to his feet only to sink onto the side of his bed, fearing his legs wouldn’t hold him upright.
“I’m fine,” he croaked through dry lips. “I’m sorry I woke you.”
Justin stiffened as she sank down beside him.
“Nothing.” His fingers wouldn’t stop twitching. He clenched them tight, rather than let her guess his weakness.
“Justin? Something’s wrong.” Her fingers scalded a path across his icy forearm. He shuddered, wishing he could slip his arms around her. Wishing he could fall onto the bed with her, and forget. Wishing they could be together, now and forever.
A groan escaped his lips as his body refused to respond to the picture springing into his mind for all of a second. But that dream wasn’t possible. Not anymore. He mustn’t even consider the depth of his feelings for this woman. Now he had only one choice.
He had to push her out of his life.
Way to tempt our readers into wanting more! What can we expect from you next? Are you working on anything new?
I’ve recently submitted a story set in Auckland which I guess you could say has a genealogy twist to it. And I’m about 45K words into another which is set around my hometown in Southland. It has a country feel to it, set on a farm. I have a couple more ideas simmering on the back burner, one I’ve actually written the first chapter for, but I need a lot more thought before I can take it further. Generally the winter time is great for me and my writing, I’m less likely to be dragged away from the computer by family. I’ve never managed to meet my goal of submitting 4 stories per year, but I keep trying.
Good luck with the new submission and the work-in-progress. And four stories a year? Wow, only in my dreams. I’m lucky to get off one. Where can we find you and your books on the internet?
Author link at TWRP
Author page at Amazon
Author page at B&N
Social Media Links
Thanks for sharing with us, Anne. It’s been a pleasure to learn a little more about you and your writing. Best of luck to you with Worlds Collide and all your future endeavors.
Thanks so much for having me as your guest today, Joyce. I appreciate the opportunity to interact with your readers and will endeavour to respond to any comments they make. Be aware of the different time zone, though, so it might be a little while after a comment is posted but I will respond.